|This article needs additional citations for verification. (September 2009)|
Mr. George Whipple is a fictional supermarket manager featured in television commercials and print advertisements that ran in the United States and Canada from 1964 to 1985 for Charmin toilet paper. In unvarying repetition, Whipple scolds customers (who were mostly women in those days) who "squeeze the Charmin," while hypocritically entertaining such actions himself when he thinks no one will notice. The character and catchphrase were created by John Chervokas.
The very first commercial set the tone of the advertising campaign. Mr. Whipple is seen looking off-camera at a female customer, commenting that first she's squeezing the grapefruits, then she's squeezing the melons, and then (in a classic comic "triple") when she gets to the Charmin, that's the last straw, and he walks over to her and utters his famous plea "Please don't squeeze the Charmin!" for the first time.
In the late 1970s and early 1980s, a competing grocer named Mr. Hoffmeier came along, who encouraged his customers to squeeze the Charmin, and scolded Whipple on his hypocrisy. In 1986, the lyric "You better squeeze all the Charmin you can when Mr. Whipple's not around" was included in the "Weird Al" Yankovic song "Dare to Be Stupid". By the late 1980s, Mr. Whipple was encouraging customers who weren't buying Charmin to squeeze it. One commercial featured him using a fishing rod to place the product in a skeptic's shopping cart.
"Mr. Whipple" was played by Dick Wilson, a character actor who made many appearances on TV sitcoms during the 1960s and 1970s. Between 1964 and 1985, Wilson appeared as Whipple in more than 500 commercials for Charmin. Playing this role allowed Wilson the luxury of working only a few days per year, while earning an annual salary of $300,000.
In 1999, after a 14-year hiatus, Mr. Whipple returned to Charmin with various commercials involving why he could not retire (with the answer being that he had to inform the public about Charmin). A later series of commercials featured him with the new slogan, "Is Mr. Whipple watching?". In a subsequent advertising campaign in 2000, the Whipple character was eventually replaced with the Charmin Bears, a family of cartoon bears whose parents extol the virtues of Charmin to their bear-cub children.
Wilson died of natural causes on November 19, 2007, at the age of 91, in California.
On November 28, 2007, a new commercial-tribute debuted on television, featuring old clips and paying tribute to Dick Wilson and Mr. Whipple. The tribute indicated that the deceased actor will be "In Our Hearts Forever."
According to a 1970s survey, "Mr. Whipple" topped then-U.S. President Jimmy Carter as the most recognizable face in North America. According to Charmin makers Procter & Gamble, a 1978 survey found that "Mr. Whipple" was the third best-known American, behind former President Richard Nixon and evangelist Billy Graham.
The country song "Don' Squeeze My Sharmon," which was a minor hit for Charlie Walker in 1967, was inspired by the ad campaign for Charmin.
- Gates, Anita. Dick Wilson, Squeezer of Tissue Rolls on Television, Dies at 91. The New York Times. 20 November 2007.